Learning lots with unscripted moments

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When public people show their private hearts, listen closely.

THERE'S AN OLD saying in politics: Pay attention to what politicians say when they don't know we're listening.

And so it is this week with revelations that FBI wiretaps related to the 10-year-old investigation of disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich caught current Democratic gubernatorial front-runner J.B. Pritzker dissing African Americans and gossiping about what Blagojevich might gain by appointing one person or another to a Senate seat.

Pritzker told Blagojevich he should consider appointing Secretary of State Jesse White, the "least offensive" African American, which would open up Blagojevich to name a new secretary of state that is "the key spot ... that controls jobs." Blagojevich, of course, went on to be convicted of corruption and serve time in prison. Now Pritzker wants to oust Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to lead Illinois.

WHETHER IT'S AN open microphone or a wiretap, it can be embarrassing or worse for the politician and illuminating for the people.

We remember President Obama caught whispering that he could be more accommodating to Russia after the 2012 elections.

We remember Gov. Scott Walker being pranked in the fake-David Koch phone call, saying things like how Republicans had considered planting provocateurs within the ranks of union protesters.

Wincingly, we recall President Trump talking about how celebrities can grab random women by their private parts and get away with it.

IT'S PROBABLY FAIR to acknowledge lots of people say things they think are private they wouldn't repeat in public. Should politicians be held to a higher standard?

As a matter of fact, they should.

These are not ordinary, everyday people talking to a neighbor over the fence or the guy on the next barstool. These are people who proclaim their exceptionalness, and want to lead all the ordinary, everyday people. We should not want to be led by the guy on the next barstool, but rather by the best of us, guided by what Lincoln called our "better angels."

What is said or done when no one is believed to be looking or listening is probably a better reflection of one's heart and soul than any prepared remarks delivered by polished politicians. Voters should place high value on the unscripted moments when making their ballot-box decisions.

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